Our Road to Emmaus

I always read the readings for the Sunday before writing my bulletin article. Always. It only seems right, since that’s what I’m being asked to reflect on and share some insight with you. Today though, as I sat down to write my article, I was tempted not to. I took a quick glance and saw what the Gospel was—the Road to Emmaus—and thought “Oh, I know what I’m going to say,” and nearly put my Bible aside and just started writing. But the Lord, in his kindness and wisdom, nudged me and encouraged me to actually read the readings—and as always—His way is the best, and He surprises me in what he wants to say.

When I first saw that the Gospel for this weekend was the Road to Emmaus, it made my heart hurt. I have used this Gospel over and over in my ministry for something called an Emmaus walk. The idea of an Emmaus walk is this: two people, walking together and being open to what the other has to say, encounter Christ together, because we are relational people, called to be in communion with one another and with God.

Before an Emmaus walk, we read this Gospel passage,  invite the participants to pair up with someone they don’t know, and to spend some time together sharing of themselves and encountering the Lord together in their conversation. The entire point is to highlight the importance of relationship and community—and here I sit at home, in isolation, desperately missing the type of connection and relationship this activity highlights.

I thought that was what I would spend the entirety of my bulletin article talking about—how we are made for community—and this is a time of great trial for us, as we await the day we can be together again, to encounter Christ in the “breaking of the bread.” But then the Lord nudged me to read the entirety of the readings for this weekend and filled me with a greater sense of peace and hope.

Yes, this Gospel highlights our need for community, for conversation, for time with one another. But the Lord is not limited to my idea of what this looks like because God is not limited by anything, not by social distancing, not by COVID, not even by death. As Peter tells us in his speech in Jerusalem, “God raised him [Jesus] from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). I may mourn the fact that we can’t be together right now, but that doesn’t mean the Lord cannot continue to build relationships, to make himself present in conversations via the phone, virtual youth group, or other outlets. God is bigger than this—bigger than any problem that comes our way, and He will continue to walk with us through this time of distance.

When we look at the Road to Emmaus, we see two disciples talking about the events that had occurred, and when Jesus showed up and started walking with them, they didn’t realize it was Him. They were too focused on what had happened in this world to recognize Him in their midst.  Jesus was with them, and they didn’t even realize it! They were too focused on the facts, the latest news, and what others were telling them.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting buried in the latest intel about COVID, the most recent model, the buzz around what will happen next. Last night I went down the rabbit hole of reading about the different ways COVID was affecting labor and delivery wards in hospitals. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone who could have a baby any day now. It won’t bring you peace.

How often do I lose sight of Jesus who is walking with me, because I am too focused on the latest info regarding COVID? How often do I let fear find its way in, steal my peace, and make me forget that God is bigger than this, that He has a plan, and that He is still working in our world?

Let us not allow our peace to be stolen. Let us not miss Jesus in our world right now. More than anything, what we need right now is Him. Jesus is here. Jesus is connecting us to one another, even when we feel alone. Jesus is bigger than all of it, even death.

A wise priest once said “Don’t tell God how big your problem is; tell your problem how big your God is.” May we seek Him, recognize Him, and sojourn this road with Him. 


Elizabeth McCanna
Youth Minister


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